Week-long STEM Celebration to Kick Off, Bring Science to Underserved Communities
By Mario A. Cortez
An eight-day-long celebration of science and engineering activities is about to kick off this weekend.
The San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, to be held on March 2 at Petco Park, and its Festival Week, held through March 10 at several locations countywide, are returning with a full lineup of activities and innovation for families and science aficionados.
Attendees to Saturday’s free inaugural festival, hosted by local science nonprofit Biocom Institute, will be able to interact with hundreds of exhibitors and participate in activities related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Those present will also get a sneak peek at Festival Week features to come just days later.
As part of Festival Week, students grades K-12, along with their families and any STEM-curious community members, can continue in the activities and celebrations at their nearest event venue. Events at these venues are free to the public and range from hands-on activities to dynamic speaker presentations.
These countywide events, known as STEM in Your Back, open great opportunities to those living in places without much access to the sciences outside of the classroom. According to Sarah Pagano of the Biocom Institute, these events combine the feel of a community gathering with teaching and opportunities for people to approach local companies in the sciences.
“The events are creating a bridge for the local community with businesses and academia so people know that there are a lot of companies in their area that are supporting STEM and STEM education,” said Pagano.
Venues for STEM in Your Backyard include the Logan Heights Library on March 5, High Tech High’s San Marcos campus on March 6, Hillsdale MIddle School in El Cajon on March 7, and Castle Park High School in Chula Vista on March 8.
Festival Week organizers believe that bringing STEM programming and activities to underserved communities with high percentages of students of color, such as Logan Heights, El Cajon, and South Chula Vista, will help with creating interest in STEM-related fields among students in the community. Guests, exhibitors, and activities are tailored to each specific and reflect the companies and people working in the sciences.
“We really want to make sure that we have representation, especially for Latinx students, that shows there are people in the industry that look like these students and have success through the jobs that have been available to them in the sciences. We want to make sure they can see that there is diversity across the board and need to make that connection to them,” Pagano stated. “A day or a week of positive experiences with STEM can make an impact the rest of the day and in their future career.”